A plan to revamp the Washington County Planning Commission has been snubbed by county commissioners. Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge wanted to reduce the total number of members serving on the planing board from 15 to nine. That change would have included reducing the number county commissioners that serve on the Planning Commission from six to four.
Eldridge said he wanted the remaining five members of the planning board to be well versed in matters of zoning, building and economic development. This plan, however, did not sit well with some county commissioners. As Press staff writer Gary B. Gray has reported, commissioners voted 17-7 in March to approve a resolution asking state law to be changed to allow commissioners to decide if they wish to bestow the power to appoint planning commissioners on the county mayor or give it to the chairman of the County Commission.
Eldridge vetoed that resolution on April 11. He also sent a letter to commissioners that day saying he believed giving them the authority to appoint planning commissioners would give the County Commission “absolute power and control” over the planning and zoning process.
Commissioners Mark Ferguson and Roger Nave told the Johnson City Press last month they believed the veto to be invalid because it came later than 10 days after the resolution’s passage. State law and the calendar, however, suggests otherwise.
“If the county mayor does not sign or veto a resolution or report the mayor’s action to the legislative body within 10 days after the resolution is submitted to him or her, the resolution becomes effective without the mayor’s signature after 10 days or at a later date if the resolution so provides,” according to state statute (T.C.A. 5-6-107).
The resolution was submitted to Eldridge on April 3, meaning he had 10 days from that time to veto the resolution, which he did in accordance with the law.
Nonetheless, commissioners voted April 22 to keep the membership of the Planning Commission at 15. Ferguson and others suggested reducing the number would harm representation of rural areas. Ferguson, however, failed to offer any specifics as to why he thinks that is so.
Tell us what you think. Should the makeup of the Washington County Planning Commission be changed?
Send your comments to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification purposes. We will print responses on the Opinion pages in the coming weeks.